Yankee Noodle Dandy: Building a ramen business in the U.S.
SVJP welcomed Kenshiro Uki, President of Sun Noodle North America and Hiro Hasegawa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ramen Hero as our distinguished March Benkyokai speakers.
Most people think of dried, instant noodle packets when the word “ramen” is mentioned, but it’s so much more than that. Sun Noodle is a large 40-year old, family-owned business and Ramen Hero is a new startup focusing on the online market. Together, we learned about their common goal of expanding the awareness, appreciation, and culture of Japanese ramen across the U.S.
Kenshiro Uki is the president of Sun Noodle North America. He oversees strategy and operations out of the company’s Carlstadt, New Jersey location. A third-generation noodle maker, Kenshiro grew up taste-testing ramen noodles at his family’s Honolulu facility. With his sister Hisae, he launched Sun Noodle’s innovative ramen pop up concept, Ramen Lab, in the competitive New York restaurant scene during a peak growth period for Sun Noodle. Kenshiro earned his business management undergraduate degree and his MBA in international management from Whitworth University.
Hiro Hasegawa is the founder and CEO of Ramen Hero, a direct-to-consumer startup providing restaurant quality ramen kits ready in just 10 minutes. Originally from Yamanashi, Japan, Hiro moved to San Francisco in 2014 to pursue his dream of creating a product that offered a great user experience. Drawing upon his fascination and love for ramen, which started in his childhood and developed further as a student at Tokyo University, it became clear how to reach his dream. Hiro launched Ramen Hero in 2017 to share the ramen experience he enjoyed so deeply in Japan. His philosophy about ramen remains today: “good ramen should be accessible to everyone, no matter where you live, what time it is, or who you are”.